Expressive Therapies Department at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center

Dance/ Movement Therapy

Based on the empirically supported premise that the body, mind and spirit are interconnected, the American Dance Therapy Association defines dance/movement therapy as the psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration of the individual.

Benefits of Dance/Movement Therapy:

  • Focused on movement behavior as it emerges in the therapeutic relationship.  Expressive, communicative, and adaptive behaviors are all considered for group and individual treatment.  Body movement, as the core component of dance, simultaneously provides the means of assessment and the mode of intervention for dance/movement therapy.
  • Practiced in mental health, rehabilitation, medical, educational and forensic settings, and in nursing homes, day care centers, disease prevention, health promotion programs and in private practice.
  • Effective for individuals with developmental, medical, social, physical and psychological impairments.
  • Used with people of all ages, races and ethnic backgrounds in individual, couples, family and group therapy formats.

Dance/Movement Therapy and Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia

Dance/movement Therapy for people with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias employs dance and movement as a form of self expression, a means of connecting with others and a pathway to accessing memory. Dance/movement therapy is especially effective for those with memory impairment as it offers a non-verbal means of self expression when words are difficult to access.  The act of moving and dancing, especially to music, triggers memory and often increases verbal capacity.  When a person experiences memory loss, it can seem as if the world is slipping away.

  • Our bodies tell the story of our lives, and through the facilitation of the dance/movement therapist these stories can be acknowledged and shared with others.  Any postures and movements offered by participants are validated verbally and through mirroring of movement by the therapist, creating a non-threatening and emotionally safe experience. 
  • The feeling of safety decreases the anxiety which people with dementia often feel. Improvisation is a key component to the process of dance/movement therapy as it allows for the individual’s experience to come forth.
  • The dance/movement therapist attempts to create an environment of playfulness and openness to invite and inspire creativity.
  • Dance/movement is the most fundamental expression of our “aliveness” and is a reminder of the beauty of the here and now.
  • The dance/movement therapist works to increase awareness of the importance of non-verbal communication as a means for increasing understanding and decreasing the distress of the individual and their caregivers and loved ones.

Dance Group for Residents with Parkinson’s and Other Neurological Disorders

This program is structured as an adapted dance class, where residents learn and work on choreography from week to week, just as they would in a normal dance class.  Residents in wheelchairs and who have difficulty standing are very welcome as the class is primarily performed seated, with adaptations for those who wish to stand.

The goals for this group are:

  • To support range of motion and coordination
  • To provide psychosocial support for residents coping with Parkinson’s disease and other disorders affecting movement/mobility. 
  • To improve body image and self-esteem
  • To build a sense of community
  • Enjoyment!
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